Saturday Distribution: Why Do People Still Hate

The highlight of last Saturday’s Distribution was without a doubt, the poetry of Esi Grant. Esi just got out of the hospital, she had not been outside in four or five days, but her joy infected everyone around her. She was kind enough to share two of her poems with us.

After this next one, she hugged us all, and left. Leaving behind her inspiration and her joy. What a great break in our distribution! She filled our hearts.

We distributed 117 chili meals and 200 waters. A HUGE thank you to our favorite teenagers, the gals from Student Advocated for Animal Rights in Edward Murrow High School for holding a vegan bake sale in their school and surprising us with a $150.00 donation! They are truly an inspiration for the future, engaged participatory comitted youth. I look forward to continuing collaboration with them in the summer, with the new club leadership next school year, and to follow the new graduates in their college careers. They are off to do greater and bigger things, but I am sure they will continue to bring light to their communities, wherever they find themselves. I could not be prouder of the Veganteers!

Surprising donation from the Student Advocates for Animal Rights
Surprising donation from the Student Advocates for Animal Rights

I want to thank the Veganteers on Saturday, Erika, Hannah, Grace, Julianna, Melissa, Tia, Christopher, Bear, Ollie, and Ivan. We couldn’t have done it without you! We brought a little relief to a Saturday afternoon!

Melissa and Tia Team ready for distribution in the vicinity of the park.
Melissa and Tia Team ready for distribution in the vicinity of the park.
Erika manages the table.
Erika manages the table.

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Distributing
Distributing
Distributing
Distributing
Distributing.
Distributing.

Esi’s poem might be titled, Why Do People Still Hate, but our Saturday Distributions are filled with nothing but love. Thank you for the love.

Saturday Distribution- Numbers, People, Pictures

Tyrone
Tyrone

It’s easy for me to get hung up on numbers. I was a program data director for non-profits in my previous life. My days revolved around numbers, goals and outcomes, meeting quotas, measuring progress. Now as I seek funding for Chilis on Wheels, I also go back to my training and concentrate on numbers, which foundations seem to thrive on. This weekend alone was fantastic for numbers: In NY: 125 meals. 200 water bottles, 4 dog-food bags. 12 vegan education engagements; in San Diego: 30 meals, 30 water bottles; in Puerto Rico: 15 meals, 13 water bottles, 4 dog food bags. The numbers were great! But, it’s not about numbers. I am not removed from what we do. 125 meals, means 125 people, with faces and names and lives, experiencing hardships at a level I cannot thoroughly understand.

125 people that stop to chat with us and wish us luck, and shake our hands, and allow us to glimpse a world beyond our own, allow us for a very brief period of time, to understand that the world does not in fact revolve around us. And I’m not going to lie, it give us a sense of purpose in our lives and a satisfaction of doing our part to ease someone else’s hardship even if it is as momentary a relief, as providing lunch, and a smile, and a chat, and handshake.

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This weekend the kids really stepped up. Ollie and Bear scouted the park letting people know that we were there, encouraging them to get a warm meal. They then also gave out chili and water at the table. I really enjoy seeing the kids engaged in their community, having a positive frame around the word “work”, and really having genuine fun helping people.

Bear, Christopher, and Ollie scout the park.
Bear, Christopher, and Ollie scout the park.
Bear gives out chili and water at the table-
Bear gives out chili and water at the table-
Ollie distributes water-
Ollie distributes water- **Photo by Laura Kolbe Dotterer**

Our other youth, our teenagers were also Veganteers with us this weekend. Grace, a senior from Ed Murrow, became team leader as she took charge of a cart and distributed along Avenue C and the park’s vicinity.

Grace- Senior from Ed Murrow- Chilis on Wheels Team Leader- distributing chili
Grace- Senior from Ed Murrow- Chilis on Wheels Team Leader- distributing chili **Photo by Laura Kolbe Dotterer**

While at a table we met a number of people curious about veganism and we talked to them about it, and shared ways in which they too can incorporate compassion in their diet. Some kind people even made donations, with which we purchased more water bottles as we ran low.

Kind woman making a donation-
Kind woman making a donation- we mostly depend on individual donations and are super grateful to our donors! **Photo by Laura Kolbe Dotterer**

Overall it was another great Saturday distribution, and a huge thanks goes to the people whose donations made it possible: Amanda Fields and Ronald Manning. And a huge thanks to our Veganteers: Anthony, Julianna, Christopher, Bear, Ollie, Ivan, Grace, Melissa, and Laura.

The numbers don’t lie, we ARE providing a much needed service to the community, and we are ambitious in our goals of becoming a permanent vegan food-hub in the community, but it’s because of people like John and Ed, and Tyrone, Aaron, and Maria. Because we want to help one another, because food should be free and no one should ever go hungry, and animals are lives and should never be considered food.

**Here are some pictures of the distribution, courtesy of Laura Kolbe Dotterer. (Stay tuned in a few days for pictures of San Diego and Puerto Rico’s distribution!)**

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John and Ed
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We added a bed of rice in order to stretch out our portions
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Distributing chili
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Chili
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We feed the entire family- vegan chili and vegan dog food
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Grace and Melissa- teenagers from Ed Murrow High School take a break after a chili run
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Distributing
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Tony shared thoughts on chili in differents parts of the world
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Antwon who just got back from Philadelphia
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In between crowds
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Chilis on Wheels Drive thru
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Fun in the community
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Ollie distributes
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Anthony distributes
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Julianna distributes
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.
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.
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Bye
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Ollie had some vegan chocolate ice cream!
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Grace
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At the table
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Tyrone
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Giving out the napkins
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Veganteers
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John and Ed
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We are done for the week. See you next time!
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..
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Ollie helps tie up the carts with the bungee chords
Chilis on Wheels- Help us dish out compassion! Donate today.
Chilis on Wheels- Help us dish out compassion! Donate today.

 

Unmatched Saturday Distribution! 200 people served!

2 24 QT pots of chili
1 smaller pot in an electric burner
2 pans of corn bread
4 cases of water bottles

That’s how our Saturday distribution of vegan chili started. We packed it all up and drove to the city. Upon crossing the street in to the park and before even clearing the ramp we were swamped by a crowd of people asking for a chili. We have never had an experience like this. People were shoving each other, trying to get something to eat. Think about it, they are so hungry they were pushing and shoving to get something to eat. My world was transformed this Saturday, once again.

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The crowd having us barely make it into the sidewalk.
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The crowd.
Making a line.
Making a line.

Thankfully, Stephanie saw us and came to us and helped us manage the crowd and give out the chili. We could not have done it without her. People listened to her and respected her, and then made a line that we took care of. In 5 to 10 minutes we gave out close to 60 of those chili meals.

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Stephanie, who helped us manage the crowd. Thank you so much! You were amazing!

 

None of the volunteers had yet even arrived!! What were we going to do?!

Julianna went to get bagels at a nearby supermarket. Anthony bought bags of vegan sandwiches from a nearby health food store. Jon from Community Solidarity who we just happened to see by coincidence had a case of bananas on his car and gave it to us to distribute. Day Saved!

Volunteers came, a lot this week, and we stayed in Tompkins Square Park since need was so overwhelming there. We served 200 people in this park alone! 200!

Our volunteers really saved the day though. Ollie and Bear gave out the bananas and later scouted the park telling people we were there. Volunteers prepared some sandwiches and bagels and also went around in the perimeter of the park and its close vicinity.

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Making vegan sandwiches and bagels
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New Veganteers- Jamison and Candace
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Giving out bagels
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Distributing vegan meals
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Bear and Ollie take a snack break after distributing bananas and scouting the park for people to come get their meals.

 

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Edward Murrow Student Advocates for Animal Rights gals! (and Audrey)

 

We met Israel, who has lived in the Lower East Side for 50 years and he told us there has been a lot of changes, that there is a lot less poverty now, but that people are still hurting.  He also filled me in on a little history of Tompklns Square Park, how it has seen riots because “people get angry when they don’t have anything to eat”. And a little more research upon this park proves his point. The birthplace of so many political uprisings, what an amazing park.

Israel- who gave me a history on Tompkins Square Park: "People get angry when they don't have something to eat."
Israel- who gave me a history on Tompkins Square Park: “People get angry when they don’t have something to eat.”

We met Andrea, a vegetarian travelling from New Orleans. She’s trying to go vegan and the guy she’s staying with is vegan so she thinks she’ll be able to do it. She took some of the new Evolve for Animals leaflets.

Andrea- transitioning to veganism.
Andrea- transitioning to veganism.

We met Cassandra, she lives nearby and happened to stumble across us. She loved the chili and will be coming back next week to get more. She thanked us profusely for being out here.

Cassandra-
Cassandra-

If I learned something this Saturday is that our model has already been outgrown. Until we find a kitchen where we can prepare three times, four times as much food, we will not be able to spread out as much as I had anticipated and our service will be this localized and specific and limited. I continue sending proposals to fund a space, as well as reaching out to churches and community centers in Manhattan to see if they would allow us to use their kitchens. Something is bound to materialize eventually. All I know is that I stumbled upon this need, and it has transformed into my calling. I cannot ignore it, and I am obsessively trying to improve it and grow it, all in the service of the community and while being compassionate to animals, the environment, and people.

This week’s distribution was made possible by contributions from Ruth Allison and Mark Meunier and by on the spot donations and amazing volunteer work of our Veganteers: Julianna, Grace, Melissa, Hannah, Anthony, Audrey, Nick, Alyssa, Jamison, Candace, Sebastian, Dave, Christopher, Bear, Ollie, and Ivan.

We are making a difference in the lives of people! 200 people this week!

Saturday Distribution: After the rain, a rainbow.

No volunteers. Burnt pot of chili (mostly rescued and fixed). Zip Car website down. Hour long traffic jam. Forgotten wallet at home. When it rains, it pours. Did I mention it was ALSO raining?! That was the start to our Saturday Distribution. I took a deep breath and said to myself, it will be what it will be. And it was.

We made new volunteer badges so that our volunteers can be recognized while we are giving distributions. We have called our volunteers “Veganteers: Friends of CoW”.

 

Julianna and Ollie show off the new volunteer badges "Friends of CoW"
Julianna and Ollie show off the new volunteer badges “Friends of CoW”

We arrived after an hour and a half in what is usually a 20 minute ride to Tompkins Square Park. Within 20 minutes we had already distributed close to 40 meals in that park alone. Because it was only Julianna, Ollie and I, we did not have a chance to take many pictures. The crowds gathered around us asking, “You have something to eat? What are you giving out?” It was an overwhelming experience. Usually we approach people, here they were rushing to see if we had something to eat, with a heart-breaking desperation.

Julianna and Ollie with one of the carts, crossing the street into Tompkins Sq. Park
Julianna and Ollie with one of the carts, crossing the street into Tompkins Sq. Park

Jesus, a Puerto Rican man in this park and in this rush stayed behind to talk to us. He asked us to come back again please, that people are hurting, and they’re hungry. I promised him we would return next Saturday. It’s time like these that I become impatient in our goal to have a daily soup kitchen with daily chili running teams. The need is so outstanding.

Jesus
Jesus

We started a new tradition of updating our routes in Twitter in real time, and asking you to Tweet us the location of people in the streets of Lower Manhattan that might need lunch. We ask you that if you happen upon a person set up in a sidewalk in Lower Manhattan on Saturday, you tweet us the cross streets and we will try to deliver a vegan chili. We hope it catches on!

We were done with our chili distribution fairly quickly. From now on, if we have enough volunteers, we will be splitting one team to cover Union Square from Tompkins, and the other to set up the table at Washington Square Park. Once at Wash Park, we can reshape another team to send to Central Park too. But we need volunteers! If you can give a few hours of your time and want to get in a little exercise by walking, please get in touch! We need at least 6 to 9 volunteers to cover all these locations. Be a Veganteer Friend of CoW!

All in all, the comedy of errors ended and we concluded the day with full hearts and fiery determination to reach our goals of increased services. After the rain, a rainbow! Pooling our energies together we can truly make a difference in our community, and in our world!

These guys were from Guatamala
These guys were from Guatamala
She asked for a hug after receiving a chili.
She asked for a hug after receiving a chili.
Ollie takes off his volunteer badge to enjoy his chili.
Ollie takes off his volunteer badge to enjoy his chili.
We're done! Julianna treated us to vegan ice cream afterwards!
We’re done! Julianna treated us to vegan ice cream afterwards!

Saturday Distribution with amazing photography

In our building's lobby before packing it all up in the zip car.
In our building’s lobby before packing it all up in the zip car.

Distribution of May 9, 2015 started as usual, with a kitchen full of chili and water bottles, and high spirits for the day. We again rented a zip car in order to take us to the city. It is the best option for us right now because the carts are super heavy in the beginning and they are really hard to take up and down stairs in the subway. However, this is an expensive alternative. It runs us 30 to 40 dollars a week that we could be putting into food (that would be 20-25 complete meals). If we could find a volunteer with a car that would be willing to drive us to the city every week it would be a blessing for us.

We made it to the city and met up with our volunteers. Arvind came all the way from Boston to volunteer and meet us and see how it’s done and perhaps form a chapter there. We were very excited to meet him and his friend Suman, and would love for the Boston chapter to form. We also met up with my friend Laura who would volunteer and take pictures. She is a fantastic photographer and we were very excited to have her with us. And we met with my gals from Edward Murrow High School, the Animal Advocates for Animal Rights, my favorite crew, my high schoolers, Brianna and Grace.

We split into groups and hit the streets. The weather was cloudy and not a lot of people gathered around. Not as many as usual. We made it to Washington Square Park pretty fast and set up there, but again we did not have a lot of traffic. Our plan had been to have an offshoot team go into Central Park but last minute developments made us change course and instead all of us packed up and headed off to Tompkins Square Park.

We missed the park on the way there and got a little lost in Alphabet City, but we also gave out a lot of chilis in that section of town. By the time that we got back on course and found Tomkins Sq. Park, we had around 15 chilis left and we gave them out in 20 minutes. It made us realize that we need to play around with our routes a little more. Because we have a limited amount of food that we can give out, we need to be strategic in our delivery. We came to the conclusion that we need to experiment with our routes in the next couple of weeks in order to safely say “this is the best route”. Our plan for next week is to begin in Tompkins Sq. Park and make our way to Wash Park and Union Square. If we have the volunteers that we can spare, we will send an offshoot team to hit up Central Park.

We met some beautiful people in the way. One guy said “Hey, you’re the Chili Ladies!”, and then proceeded to tell me how he does not remember quite well when he saw us sometime in the winter, because he was ill, but that the warm chili made him feel a lot better, and helped him “come back”.

The gals met a lady who would not take the chili unless she gave something back. So she gave them some honey buns and insisted on the trade. The gals then gave the honey buns away as well.

We met a deaf man who did not understand us, but when we took the chili out to show him, he beamed up and clapped. His face of surprise and joy is still with me.

We talked a little more with Danny, the man who for the very first time called me “The Chili Lady” and whose affection encouraged me to grow Chilis on Wheels. His family comes from North Carolina. He moved here in 1965 when he was 13 years old, and he says this city has changed so much, mostly for the worst.

We met some guys who took the chili but not the water. They had a bottle of water next to them and they said “Why take more than we need?” And that so perfectly summarizes the way the world should be, the world we are trying so hard to build, the biggest lesson I am trying to leave upon my son. This was Mother’s Day weekend, and after that encounter, the motto for the weekend and perhaps my life became “Don’t take more than you need.”

We gave out 79 chilis, 100+ water bottles, 2 dog food bags, thanks to contributions made by Amanda Fields, Sarah Wolf, and Ronald Manning. A huge thank you to our volunteers Laura, Arvind, Suman, Grace, Brianna, Hannah, Julianna, Ivan and Ollie!  I leave you with the photos from the distribution by my dear friend Laura Kolbe Dotterer:

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Ollie enjoys a chili and keeps an eye on donations.
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With the beautiful gals from Edward Murrow High School- Student Advocates for Animal Rights. I love these ladies!
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Union Square
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Tompkins Square Park
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Alphabet City
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Meeting up- waiting for volunteers-
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Billy who sang “Chili Today. Tomorrow Tamale!”
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Billy!
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Washington Square Park
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Washington Square Park
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Washington Square Park
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Washington Square Park
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Chilis on Wheels Youth!
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Washington Square Park
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Washington Square Park
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Washington Square Park
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Cappuccino & Tattoo – Lower East Side
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Union Square Park
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Alphabet City
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ee cummings- Lower East Side
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Tompkins Square Park
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Tompkins Square Park
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Shameless the dog enjoyed a chili (and we left a bag of vegan dog food behind for her)
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He called us “The Chili Ladies!” and thanked us for a chili on a winter day when he did not feel well.
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Ollie Carrera
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Ollie and Julianna, our Volunteer Coordinator
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With Suman and Arvind- volunteers from Boston!
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Washington Square Park
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West Village
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In the West Village
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Ollie- Lower East Side
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Lower East Side- I wish I knew sign language, his face when he saw the chili is still imprinted in my memory.
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With Suman and Arvind- volunteers from Boston!
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In action-
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Lower East Side
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Washington Square Park
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Danny telling us about the changing city
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With Laura Dotterer- the photographer and my friend!
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Washington Square Park
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Tompkins Square Park
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Chili Team!
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Lower East Side
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Michelle Carrera and Ollie Carrera in Washington Square Park
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Ollie tired after a long day’s work

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CoW Portland delivers 31 meals!

The Portland chapter of Chilis on Wheels had their first trial vegan chili run! They distributed 31 meals!

They are owners of Open Source Cafe, an amazing vegan food truck, and so they already have perfect facilities to make and distribute the chili.

Biscuits and cole slaw
Biscuits and cole slaw
Serving the chili
Serving the chili
Peter and Kim preparing the vegan meals
Peter and Kim preparing the vegan meals

They prepared chili, coleslaw, and biscuits! All vegan of course!

Kim reports to being surprised at the amount of women that they met living in the streets. Statistically in the United States 38% of people sleeping in shelters are women. It’s a lower number than their male counterpart, but it’s still pretty high, and this does not include people that sleep in the streets.

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Kim in the chili run
Kim in the chili run
Chilis on Wheels arrives
Chilis on Wheels arrives

They took a lot of pictures. I am included some here, for the rest, go to their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/chilisonwheelsportland “Like” them if you haven’t already and congratulate them on their amazing first outing!

Chilis on Wheels in a truck!
Chilis on Wheels in a truck!

This picture made me particularly emotional. They made a banner to put on the side of their truck with our logo and our slogan. I admit to breaking down in tears when I saw it. It dawned on me that the efforts that Ollie, Ivan, and I started have become so much large than us and those initial 15 meals we prepared. Chilis on Wheels is now in 4 states and Puerto Rico. It’s amazing, really. I am overflowed with gratitude to Peter and Kim for taking it to Portland, to our supporters, our fans, our friends, our family, our community.

We are just getting started!

Chilis on Wheels: Denver!

We are super excited to announce the launch of a Denver chapter!

It will be led by Jacqueline Carrera.

Jacqueline Carrera
Jacqueline Carrera

Jacqueline Carrera is a vegetarian, animal lover and plant enthusiast residing in Denver, Colorado. She is currently studying botany. She loves watching Saturday morning cartoons and digging her hands in dirt.

They will be carrying out their first distribution at the end of May. If you live in the area and want to get involved serving vegan chili to those in need, please get in touch with her at jacquelinec@chilisonwheels.org

For a just compassionate world for ALL!

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